I am writing to stress the importance of yearly health screenings for diabetes. As a nurse in a local hospital, I have seen the devastating effects of chronic elevated blood sugar in people as young as 30 years of age. According to the World Health Organization, Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle is seen in 90 percent of people who suffer from the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control describe diabetes as a chronic disease caused from the body’s inability to use the food we eat properly. Most food we eat is turned into the sugar, glucose. For our bodies to use that sugar it must enter the cell and insulin made by the pancreas works as a sort of taxi for glucose. In some people, insulin isn’t produced in enough quantity or though there is enough, the body struggles to use the insulin it makes. With the sugar not able to enter the cell, it circulates in the bloodstream instead, causing elevated blood sugar.
The WHO describes how excess sugar in the bloodstream has ravaging effects on the body over time. High blood sugar levels are the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. With nerve damage and impaired blood flow to other organs, people with diabetes suffer leg amputations from non-healing wounds and an increased risk of death from heart disease.
The American Diabetes Association cites that the costs of treating people diagnosed with diabetes were $245 billion in 2012 for the United States. Wouldn’t our health dollar be better served by intervention? Screening for diabetes and creating a plan for better health before the catastrophic costs of treating the disease are evident, is in our best hope for more cost effective health care as well as a healthier nation.